Infection Control in Emergency Shelters

Infection Control in  an Emergency ShelterIn evacuation shelters that are open for more than a few days, it is common to get an outbreak of Norovirus. The key to containment is preparation. Set up the isolation area early... before you need it!

Make sure medical volunteers wash hands with soap and water after each patient. Station (non medical) volunteers at entry and exit points to the shelter with hand sanitizer and instruct them to give it to everyone who comes in or out.

Make sure you have a product registered with the EPA to clean up any vomiting or diarrhea. Regular Clorox bleach can be used when diluted ½ cup bleach in 1 gallon water.

Here is a list of all EPA registered sanitizers for Norovirus.

Efforts should be made to prevent solutions used for cleaning and disinfection from becoming cross contaminated. Disinfectant/ cleaning solution in buckets or one-time use containers should be discarded after each use. Thoroughly rinse and clean housekeeping equipment after use and allow the equipment to dry properly.

Cleaning Body Fluid Spills

All body fluid spills should be cleaned up immediately. If a spill contains large amounts of blood or body fluids, the following procedure should be followed:

  • Put on gloves
  • Cover the spill with an absorbent material
  • Apply an EPA-registered disinfectant (allow it to sit for the time required by the manufacturer's recommendations)
  • Cover the spill with additional absorbent material
  • Dispose of all materials in appropriate waste container
  • Clean the area with cloth or paper towels moderately wetted with an EPA-registered disinfectant
  • Allow surfaces to air dry

You will also need to be ready to isolate those individuals that may be contagious with Norovirus or other communicable diseases.

Additional Resources

Butte County has great infection control protocols, check lists and forms. Website